@ESPN #SocialMediaFail : The Leader In Un-Social Media Conduct and Un-American Pride

Yesterday on ESPN during their show “Around The Horn” ESPN analyst Kevin Blackistone unleashed a tirade on the military, Pat Tillman and the US NationaESPNBUYSELLl Anthem that can only be described as disgusting. Once again, sports and political statements collide. Kevin’s statements were not about just distain for Northwestern University’s uniform that was meant to honor Wounded Warriors he was sharing with the audience his own views of the United States as well. The 1st amendment gives us all the right to share our opinions – and to that end I agree with, however, when a major sports network allows an analyst the pulpit to give this type of statement (on the lead in to Veteran’s Day no less) I find that my stomach turns a little bit and I want to know how in the hell someone can sit there and speak such vile about the men and women who shed their blood so that Mr. Blackistone could have the ability to collect a check to share his views. Perhaps he wouldn’t be so big and bold if he was sitting across from Pat Tillman’s widow? Or maybe Mr. Blackistone should say his thoughts to a young man with no legs after an IED has taken them in Iraq? Would his brass comments be so bold then? Perhaps ESPN might want to re-think their “Salute to Veterans” if their salute appears to be given with a middle finger like the one Mr. Blackistone gave to all Americans and Veterans yesterday.

Additionally, when viewers tried to comment on Mr. Blackistone’s comments on ESPN’s Facebook page, ESPN deleted comments and links to the story that appears on Breitbart. In fact, I was one of those who posted the link and my comment was deleted twice – without any explanation or even a comment back from ESPN. Clearly, ESPN doesn’t get social media. I’ve also tweeted ESPN three times and no response. Social media doesn’t appear to have much of an impact on ESPN unless you are writing “GO DUCKS!” or maybe agree with the comments of Mr. Blackistone that we should stop respecting the flag, the military. ESPN has shown time and time again that their agenda isn’t sports. With such scandals in the past with commentators, with lack of all sports – such as “if you blink you’ll miss it coverage of the NHL” it’s a cultural change of sports and how we the viewers must just follow their lead. I’m not buying it. I’m selling it. Thanks, ESPN. I know a leader when I see it and it’s not ESPN.

Here are the screenshots below of them deleting the post (they deleted it within seconds):

ESPN - Posting of Breitbart Article - Jen Olney




Jennifer Olney
Jennifer is the Founder and CEO of GingerConsulting which is the parent company of #bealeader™. Jennifer brings over 20 years of real world leadership experience to the table. She has been leading her own company and working with organizations from Maryland to San Jose, CA by leading teams in marketing and business development. As a progression of her journey, Jennifer founded #bealeader™ to move the conversation forward and provide services to all who seek to refine the leader within. As part of the mission of #bealeader™, the #bealeader™ community has been created to bring together the power of leaders from all around the global and to put their experience and knowledge to use to create the next generation of leaders.
Jennifer Olney


  1. Beth says

    Bravo, Jennifer! No longer are sports commentators unbiased. It is clear who and what they have disdain for, just ask Bob Costas. I have been enjoying my mute button more and more lately!

  2. Jennifer Olney says

    Thanks, Beth. Bob Costas came to mind as well. The mute button is our friend. In this case, it was clear that ESPN not only allowed Mr. Blackistone – a professor at the University of Maryland who has a history of this type of behavior going back to 2009 a pulpit for his vile but they seem to condone it when they censor their own social media accounts from those who wish to voice their displeasure. I'm an avid sports fan – hockey – and I've been turned off by these commentators for their lack of ability to know where to draw the line for some time. On a weekend where ESPN is promoting "Saluting the Veterans" this was not appropriate to air and no apology has been given. Clearly that signals to me that ESPN is standing behind Mr. Blackistone's comments, IMO. Thanks for your comment.
    My recent post Leaders in Bikinis and Bathing Suits

  3. Guest says

    I didn't hear the man bad mouth the men and women of the United States. My understanding is the combining of the war machine and a national pastime (Sports) is what he is against. Potentially, the attempt to commercialize, sell, and promote war and to glorify it maybe?

    I've always loved seeing the jets fly over before a game, but it raises the question as to when that started and why? I love my feelings of patriotism and singing of the national anthem, so I disagree with him there. But his point is interesting.

    ESPN did another article on the anthem, here http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/6957582/the-hi

    No one said raising money for the Wounded Warrior project is wrong. That is a great cause, one I've supported many times. (I'm a Veteran as well.)

    And also, I recall learning (while in the Military mind you; maybe it doesn't apply to civilian attire?) that its wrong to wear any part of the flag. It's happened for a long time, but that doesn't make that right.

    • Jennifer Olney says

      What part of the National Anthem is a "war" song? The song is a poem written by Key from his observation during the War of 1812 – in no way does the song indicate "war" . I wonder if Professor Blackistone has the same issue with O'Canada being sung before NHL games? His point the "war" machine was over dramatic – however, he has a history of this stance going back to 2009 and has made this point many times during other speeches at the U of Maryland and other publications as well. This is his personal opinion and not something that pertains to the UA uniforms.

      Aside from that….why would ESPN delete the comments and not allow for a civil conversation about his remarks on a weekend when they are "Saluting the America's Heroes" – the 1st Amendment is for all, correct? ESPN has a right choose how to maintain their page but in Social Media this signals that they are not really interested in engagement, rather, just dictating the conversation – not exactly a freedom….

      I appreciate your service. As my brother is USAF and most of my family is USMC , I thank you for your service. God Bless you and your family.
      My recent post Leaders in Bikinis and Bathing Suits

  4. says

    Excellent, Jennifer! It looks as though highly paid but worthless sports gurus have gone the way of the Hollywood hustlers who think that being able to pull off a reasonable charade in front of the camera or to instruct from behind it makes them omniscient in all arenas outside their little sphere of make believe. I hold a special level of disdain in my own heart for the charlatans among us who take copiously from the abundance of freedom and opportunity available only in this country while simultaneously using their big soap boxes to spew vitriol against our nation and especially the patriots who fought and died so they could have the freedom to do just that. I stopped supporting Hollywood a long time ago. It isn’t so hard for me to shut out ignoramuses like Blackistone too.

    • Jennifer Olney says

      Thanks, Jeanine. I agree, I hold a disdain for those who take advantage of the freedoms our brave men and women have given us and choose to spit in their face when it comes to offering their opinions in such manner. We all have the right to our 1st amendment – thanks to our men and women in service but there is a line that I think we need to our broadcasters to and our professors as well. Thank you.
      My recent post Leaders in Bikinis and Bathing Suits

  5. Geoff Livingston says

    One thing I like about the Around the Horn show is its diversity of opinion. Viewers get to vote up and down for people, and i think that he's allowed to say what he wants to… It's America. And I like that he was free to say this.

    I also think that Blackstone has a point in that the encroachment of military life inot sports is not necessarily welcome by others, me including. I live in DC and support our troops. But sports is not war. War costs people's lives. Sports cost recreational dollars. War costs trillions of dollars, and puts fear into people's hearts. Sports costs hundreds of dollars, and put you into better shape. My child deserves to know the real cost of war, and maybe it shouldn't be so easily cheered on and celebrated; rather an act that is only taken in the worst of scenarios.

    • Jennifer Olney says

      Geoff. I appreciate the civil debate. As you and I have had a chance to discuss our disagreement in the past of our use of the name Redskin on your own page. Being a Maryland resident, I find it pretty sad that our University do not feel the same that about diversity of opinion that you share about "Around the Horn". Unfortunately, ESPN didn't get their audience a chance on their FB page a voice in the conversation – as I showed with the screenshots.

      The National anthem is not a celebration of war, rather, is brings us all together for a brief moment to celebrate our difference – we are ONE nation – and all of us understand each of has the rights of our freedoms thanks to men and women of the military who are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedoms. I hope that you will explain that to your daughter, so she understands the real cost of freedom, not war. Thanks for your comment.
      My recent post Respect vs. Likability Factor Of Leadership

  6. says

    I agree with you in regards to how badly ESPN handles their social media. But I did not hear Kevin bad mouth the men and women of the United States.

    the struggle and beauty of our human condition is deeper than one man's perspective. and i do not like how we're personally attacking a human being just because he doesn't share the same opinion. i wasn't going to comment (because it's so much easier to look the other way), but i really feel the need to speak up.

    • Jennifer Olney says

      Thanks, Jessica. His comments were demean our military – the use of "military fly overs" the ability to sign up for the Army when you get a hot dog. The use of the military in sports. He is attacking the use of military and sports together. What he is doing is saying that our national anthem is a call to arms – a war anthem. I feel his comments – as do many others – are just another example of his personal agenda which he speaks to a lot inside and outside his classroom at University of Maryland. He has the right to the opinion but we have a right to ours to express that to ESPN – and clearly ESPN didn't want to have that addressed on their FB page.
      My recent post Respect vs. Likability Factor Of Leadership

  7. Amber-Lee Dibble says

    Hey… sometimes I am eternally grateful that I do not watch TV- at all. As you know me so well, you know that I consider myself a Patriot and I am a Veteran and come from a long line of people serving our country in the name of freedom.
    First- I listened too- what I heard at least twice was words to the effect of "it makes people uncomfortable" ~ I believe referring to what they see and interpret as blood splatter.
    Wounded Warriors.
    Veteran’s Day.
    United States Soldiers.

    IMO, You SHOULD feel uncomfortable. Wearing the colors and symbols of the flag, supporting our Wounded Warriors ~ these things should be treated with respect and accepted as an HONOR. The National Anthem ~ It is NOT a WAR song. It is our country's pride, joy and hope.

    Personally, I feel as if the First Amendment is nothing more than a convenience that means less than taking prayer out of our children's schools to these people.

    You go, Jen! LOL, We ALL need to stand up and tell people like that to SIT DOWN.

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